Fear The Walking Dead: "A Good Man" (Season 1, Episode 6)


Lots of zombies tonight, with the requisite carnage. It doesn't really have much bite, though, because the whole plot is arbitrary and capricious. There is no attempt to make sense out of jamming our disparate clumps of characters back together. At least the end promises to get them out of Los Angeles. That can only be an improvement at this point.

The opening montage tries to be haunting: a silent Los Angeles in the dark. It doesn't work for two reasons. First, nothing is happening. Remember, this is a city of over twelve million people succumbing to the zombie apocalypse. It shouldn't be silent night. Second, the computer generated makeover of real city shots is pretty shoddy. There are steady puffs of steam rising from all kind of exhaust points in buildings, plants, bakeries, etc., exactly as they would be in an aerial view today. That shouldn't be happening if everything has shut down. The CGI of a few buildings on fire sucks, too. Too little smoke and poor boundary work leaves them discrete orange rectangles not interacting with their environment in any way.

The hollow mediocrity of that image flows over into a story about four people--two high school teachers (Travis and Madison),  a sheltered barber's daughter (Ofelia) and her former Salvadorian torturer father (Daniel)--taking down a military occupation base. That would seem a stretch even on SyFy, which tries to flaunt its lameness as kitsch when doing stuff like this. The episode primarily consists of these four running around the collapsing military base with no opposition until they run into their friends.

Travis, Madison and Daniel spend the first ten minutes tonight packing to head for the desert after they rescue Nick, Liza, and the now dead Griselda from the military. Daniel wants to kill the soldier he tortured for information before they leave. Travis says no. He plans to bring the soldier along (a dumb idea), but wimps out of even that eventually. He lets the soldier go instead.

Remember those two thousand zombies locked in the Forum? Apparently Daniel somehow lets them out off-screen without getting overwhelmed himself. He then gets them to line up in a neat column behind him, also off-screen, to slowly walk after him as he leads them to the base. Arriving at the base, he confronts two soldiers on sentry duty in an elevated platform. They exchange dumb dialogue that's supposed to be clever until the zombies suddenly arrive streaming around a corner.

The camera pulls back for a neat shot showing the long line of zombies. The carelessness of the craft, however,  ruins this visual as well. It's obvious that it was geometrically impossible for the soldiers on the platform not to have noticed this approaching horde some time ago. Certainly long before Daniel arrived to deliver his stale bon mot.

The rest of the episode is just random running around while the base falls due to the military's egregious incompetence. Three clumps of characters run around until they intersect: (1) the four people assaulting the base, (2) Liza the nurse (on her own), and (3) Strand the dick and his new friend junkie Nick. Strand is such a 1% "**** everyone" caricature it's an absolute mystery what he sees in junkie Nick that makes it worth rescuing him, and only him. It's obvious to the viewer that the only reason Strand saves Nick is for the plot convenience of making the finally unified group go to Strand's house. They need him. He clearly doesn't need them.

Alicia and Chris? In case you remember who they are, they spent the episode waiting in a parking garage.

After the whole group is reunited in that same parking garage, the soldier Travis spared inexplicably shows up. He shoots Ofelia in the arm for no real reason other than to demonstrate Travis' newly found resolve. Travis jumps him and beats the soldier pretty much to death. Ofelia is okay, too. So that was a pointless sequence other than to, for one final time, demonstrate how stupid this show seems to think soldiers are.

The whole gangs gets into two cars to drive across town to the wealthy Strand's beach house. They see a total of three zombies along the way. That's lame.

Strand has a yacht and suggest they take to open water. If they do, that might even be intriguing next year, although they'll have to have a bigger budget to go to any place interesting. Zombie Five O, perhaps?

There's one final lunge into the arbitrary "what the hell" plotting. Somehow during all this excitement Liza forget she got bit in the abdomen. How do you forget that? Especially when your clothes aren't even torn? The sequence of events necessary to cause such a wound should be reasonably memorable.

Travis shoots her in the head. It's less shocking than simply annoying--it made the episode run ten minutes longer.

This show wasn't very good. I certainly won't await its return with any real anticipation.